A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Reading is a very fresh way to learn"

This is going to be a long one, so I would like to begin this post by reiterating that Franklin Bruno will be talking about Elvis Costello's Armed Forces at Barbes in Park Slope on Sunday, November 2nd at 7pm. See you there!
More on that here.

Powell's Books' latest installment of their Indiespensible program is available and is appropriately themed for the season. The October installment features a slipcased edition with a signed bookplate of Iain Banks' Crow Road, a CD of original songs about death and dying (more here), AND a booklet of Graeme Thomson's top 40 death songs of all time from his book I Shot A Man In Reno. It's not too late to order a copy of the whole package on the Powell's site.
And, if you are one of the first 5 people to forward me your order confirmation at jmboling (at) continuum-books (dot) com, I will send you a free copy of
I Shot A Man In Reno for your very own. I'll also burn you an mp3 CD of Graeme's top 40.

We are extremely excited to announce that Drew Daniel, one half of Matmos and the author of the 33 1/3 on Throbbing Gristle's 20 Jazz Funk Greats, will be at Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe in Soho on Saturday, November 15th to read, talk, sign, and make some beautiful noise music on his computer. The reason we're giving you 2 weeks' notice on this is that tickets are $10 and benefit a wonderful charity.
Get some before they fill up!

* * * * *
Now some messages from your local literacy council... First we have Glenn Danzig on the topic of books. You have no idea how often we hang around bookshelves with our shirts off here at the office. The water cooler is highly overrated.

Next up is Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street.

And finally Run DMC on Reading Rainbow.

For fans of the music video, it should be noted that Mtv has gone and made its whole library available online through the imperfect medium of pixellated streaming video at their new website called Mtv Music. I guess by calling the site Music Television Music, they really want to drive home the point that it's all about the Music Music. At any rate, that site has more awkwardly choreographed Van Halen, Huey Lewis, and ZZ Top dance moves than you can shake a stick at.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Franklin Bruno at Barbes Nov. 2

The next installment of the 33 1/3 Multimedia Reading Series at Barbes in Brooklyn is this coming Sunday Nov. 2nd at 7pm. If you're in the area and haven't made it out for one of the readings yet, you've been missing some good times. Last reading included awesome footage of Stevie Wonder dressed in full cowboy gear donning his Songs in the Key of Life albums in his holsters instead of guns. Enough said.

This week's reading:

Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces

Franklin Bruno

Elvis Costello and the Attractions' 1979 album Armed Forces was perfectly timed to comment on the rising tide of "emotional fascism"-- the album's working title-- in what was about to become Thatcher's England (not to mention Reagan's America). Join us for a timely pre-election look at the musical and political roots of Costello perennials like "Oliver's Army," and "(What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and and Understanding)," with like "illustration" by author Franklin Bruno and special guests, including this-performance-only cover versions.

Critic and musician Franklin Bruno has been called a "true Tin Pan Alley scion" by Los Angeles Times. He founded and fronted the So. Cal. pop trio Nothing Painted Blue and has since recorded as a solo artist, in collaboration with The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle (as The Extra Glenns) and singer/activist Jenny Toomey, and with his current "flexible branding medium" The Human Hears. As a critic, his writing has appeared in Slate, The Believer, Village Voice, and in Da Capo's Best Music Writing series.


376 9th Street at 6th Ave

Park Slope, Brooklyn

Nov. 2nd 7pm

Sunday, October 26, 2008

If Things Were Perfect

Fingers crossed, we'll be announcing an open call for proposals in the next couple of weeks, here on the blog. As happened last time, I'm sure we'll manage to piss off a few people, but we'll do everything we can to make the process as transparent and democratic as possible.

In the meantime, here's a clip for you. We had a song by James at my Dad's funeral last month ("Ring the Bells") but for obvious reasons I can't listen to that any more, right now. Instead, here's the wonderful "If Things Were Perfect", which I first saw performed at the Royal Albert Hall on April 6, 1985.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vol. 60: Rum, Sodomy & the Lash

I'm thrilled that Jeffery T. Roesgen's book about the Pogues is now available from your local 33 1/3 vendor, as well as all the usual online places.

We've had, up to now, quite a few "making of" books in the series, and a handful of fictional treatments. This is the first book to combine the two approaches - interspersing track-by-track analysis of the album (and interviews with most of the band) with a miniature epic that places those same bandmembers on a fateful sea voyage from France to Senegal in 1816.

Here's the back cover copy:


"The band heaped their cases and bags into the corner of a small tavern and came to rest around a table. Some of them continued to sing, while others put their brows to the table and slept. After some time Cait, the sole woman in the band, rose and nodded to her group. She collected a bag and a bass and left with a man in glasses and a black hat who'd been standing along the wall. Voice by voice, the band's songs diluted into the commotion of the tavern room. Soon, there'd be more songs to sing, but for now there'd be rest; the kind that all trodden men must indulge."

To listen to Rum, Sodomy & the Lash is to be taken on a sea voyage with a cast of rabble-rousers, rovers, dreamers and revolutionaries. Released in 1985, the Pogues' second album seamlessly bounds between oceans and centuries, composing and culling stories of common people - their vices, suffering and urges, their misadventures and victories. With the vital ode of Celtic folk music and the abandon of punk, the Pogues frame their tales with a spirit that's at once firebrand and solemn. Through the epic imagery gracing the cover to the cast of souls introduced in the songs to the Pogues themselves, Jeff Roesgen's celebration of Rum, Sodomy & the Lash intertwines a seafaring fictional narrative with band-informed accounts of the creation of this unique and enduring album.

Jeff Roesgen writes fiction and about music for tinymixtapes.com. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife and two children.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bob Dylan Encyclopedia in Paperback

Gerry Smith, editor of the esteemed Dylan Daily website, has some very kind words about our Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, now available in paperback - and highly recommended if you're already thinking about some festive shopping...


Updating his Bob Dylan Encyclopedia for the new paperback edition, Michael Gray took the opportunity to add entries on recent product as varied as a CD - Modern Times, an art show - Drawn Blank, and two major DVD releases – I’m Not There and The Other Side Of The Mirror.

For the new material, Gray continues to employ his well-established technique of mixing factual description with robust critical opinion. You won't always agree with him, but his combative tone challenges you to think through your own views.

Apart from its intrinsic value, the new edition – which should be on any Dylan fan’s bookshelves - serves as a reminder of its author's pre-eminence as a Zim commentator.

Long before it became fashionable, Gray demonstrated, single-handedly, why Dylan is a great writer, to be considered alongside the giants of serious literature. Song and Dance Man, Gray’s ground-breaking study from 1972, showed the first wave of Bobfans that Dylan was special, and why he was marching well in front of the trailing line of rock musos with whom he’d hitherto been lumped. For this, countless Dylan fans are indebted to Michael Gray.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Community Care

Thanks to David Hemingway, we've had our first review in the UK's Community Care magazine - a great review of John Darnielle's Master of Reality book in the series.


John Darnielle is an acclaimed singer/songwriter, a columnist for rock magazine Decibel and a former US-based psychiatric nurse who dedicates his first book to "all the children to whom I have ever provided care". Each book in the ongoing 33 1/3 series considers a solitary album - previous contributions have ranged from Radiohead's OK Computer to Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love.

Here, Darnielle explores Black Sabbath's iconic third album Master of Reality, in the voice of Roger, a 15-year-old boy being held in an adolescent psychiatric ward in southern California. Roger's music cassettes have been taken away from him due to the belief that their content is part of his problem. His subsequent journal entries are, in part, an attempt to convince his "captors" to return his Walkman and cherished tapes to him, in particular this blunt album that sounds as if it's "made by four guys who have never once danced at a party in their lives".

Darnielle writes with necessary directness - Roger's first journal entry reads simply "Fuck you all. Go to hell" - and in doing so manages to articulate more about Ozzy Osbourne et al than a more traditional recording history or biography as well as providing a vivid description of what it might be like to be incarcerated on an adolescent psychiatric ward.

Darnielle's novella is not only a touchstone in the series, it is a powerful and potent book in its own right. Utterly compelling.


Review by David Hemingway, mental health worker and a contributor to XLR8R and Record Collector magazines

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The second installment of the 33 1/3 Multiamedia Reading Series at Barbes on Sunday with Zeth Lundy on Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life went swimmingly. Below are some photo highlights for those who couldn't make it. My favorite part? Footage of Stevie Wonder in full cowboy gear with Songs in the Key of Life albums slung in his holster....

Remaining readings in the series:
Sunday Nov. 2nd @ 7pm Franklin Bruno on Elvis Costello's Armed Forces
Sunday Dec. 7@ 7pm Joe Harvard on Velvet Underground's Velvet Underground and Nico
Sunday Jan. 4th @7pm Michael Fournier on Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime

Monday, October 06, 2008

Get it while you can

KEXP in Seattle (90.3FM) is counting down the top 903 albums of all time (as voted on by their staff and listeners) as part of their fall fund drive. As I type this right now they're on the Smiths' "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" from Meat is Murder (#444, if you were curious).

The folks at KEXP are very into long, intimidating lists--they are also reviewing every single volume of the 33 1/3 series on their blog, most recently, Slayer - Reign In Blood.

Stop by in the next couple days, see who's playing, maybe even donate some money to one of the best radio stations in the country.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

"One of the Great Music Biographies"

I know I've plugged Joe Bonomo's wonderful, wonderful book about the Fleshtones on here several times before, but we just got this great review by Kris Needs in Mojo, and we wanted to share it with you.


Pursuing an unquenchable lust for life, music and partying since forming in a debauched Queens basement, the Fleshtones have paid homage to Archie Bell and the Drells, Standells-era punk and also plugged into the hedonistic energy of the "New York experience" at gay club The Cock Ring. Dismissed by one critic as a "mindless twist band", the Fleshtones weren't feted like their contemporaries but, undaunted, have released some 20 albums and have gigged relentlessly, remaining undimmed of spirit and happy that Suicide are fans. Bonomo's beautifully written, band-assisted account is both hilarious and tragic. There's heroic excess, dogged obsession, personal tragedy and slapstick situations, and even if the Hall of Fame never beckons, the Fleshtones can at least count their name on one of the great music biographies.